With the ability to run live events on hold for the foreseeable future, companies are shifting resources to virtual events. Below is a guide on how to create a successful virtual event for your company.

Keep Session Lengths Short

A 60-minute keynote or breakout session at a face-to-face event is pretty standard and doesn’t usually feel like a slog.

But that’s partially because attendees have other stimuli and the ability to experience presentations in a three-dimensional environment.

It is far more difficult to hold audience attention in a virtual event, compared to an in-person conference.

When designing your virtual event, consider shortening the time slots you would use for a physical event by 15 or 30 minutes.

Sharpen Your Titles and Descriptions

Many online events rely on emails, social media posts, and other tactics to inform attendees of what information will be presented. There is no written conference guide, dedicated mobile app or ability to ask other participants which breakout they are attending, and why.

Thus, participants in your virtual event have less information when deciding what sessions to tune in for, and which to skip.

Consequently, it is even more important that the session titles and descriptions for your virtual conference program are descriptive and compelling.

The moderator or chair helps contextualise the information presented throughout the conference, while also helping to keep energy up and deliver important housekeeping notes.

Use a Moderator

In a face-to-face event, the moderator or chair helps contextualise the information presented throughout the conference, while also helping to keep energy up and deliver important housekeeping notes.

This remains true for online events to offer a face and voice that “stitches together” the virtual sessions for participants and adds much-needed familiarity and helps alleviate the isolated feeling that online events can sometimes produce for attendees.

The best way to implement this is to have the event moderator open up the conference online – just like a regular event – and then moderate questions for speakers and pop back online between sessions to chat with attendees.

Use Attendee Chat

The networking component of face-to-face events are almost always cited as the best part of the conference.

While it is of course more difficult to deliver rich networking online, you can assist attendees interact with presenters by making liberal use of the chat/Q&A function in your chosen virtual events platform.

The moderator should ask attendees questions at the beginning of the day to get participants used to the functionality, and also between sessions to facilitate networking.

Every presenter at your virtual event should be taking questions from the audience using the Chat/Q&A tool.

Further, one of the built-in advantages of online conferences is the ability to use the polling function of the software to ask questions of the audience and get instant, mathematical results.

You should train your presenters how to use this polling feature to make sessions more interesting and interactive.

Presenter Run-Throughs

Each presenter should participate in a run-through of their material a week or so before your virtual event. Though your presenters may have some experience with running a virtual presentation, every online event software platform is different, and presenters need to understand those nuances.

For example, some online conference software packages “hide” presenter notes when in presentation mode. A speaker accustomed to using presenter notes will be mighty surprised when they all of a sudden disappear once the session begins.

Further, once presenters are clear on the different interactive elements of the software, and the inherently altered “feel” of a virtual presentation from the audience perspective, they should make changes to their content accordingly.

Use Cameras

To make the virtual conference feel more similar to the face-to-face experience, you should require presenters to use their web cam while presenting.

This allows audience to see the speaker during the presentation, which adds another layer of information such as non-verbal cues, etc.

However, this requires each presenter to have a decent camera, as well as suitable lighting.

This isn’t necessarily a huge challenge, but is another wrinkle that presenters don’t have to contend with in a face-to-face event (and is another reason you need run-throughs).

Ensure Quality Sound

If the speakers at your online conference don’t have fantastic lighting or great cameras, the event can still work if the content is outstanding.

But if the presenter audio isn’t solid, your audience will log off.

Just like with podcasts, sound quality for a virtual event is non-negotiable.

When you do presenter run-throughs make certain they are conducted in the same room and with the same setup as will occur during the actual broadcast.

Lastly, if the speaker cannot be in a circumstance that is acceptable for audio when their live presentation is scheduled, pre-record that session and then have the speaker log-in at the end of the recorded portion to answer questions. This robs the speaker of the opportunity to use audience polls or take questions via chat during the session, but is better than bad audio.


Original Source: Convince&Convert Consulting

Contact Watermark Events to discuss your Virtual Event requirements.